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This page presented an issue for consideration in the CC license suite 4.0 versioning process. The discussions have now concluded with the publication of the 4.0 licenses, and the information on this page is now kept as an archive of previous discussions. The primary forum for issues relating to the 4.0 versioning process was the CC license discuss email list. You may subscribe to contribute to any continuing post-launch discussions, such as those surrounding compatibility and license translation. The wiki has been populated with links to relevant email threads from the mailing list where applicable, and other topics for discussion were raised in the 4.0/Sandbox. See the 4.0 page for more about the process.

Summary = One of our highest goals for the 4.0 process, consistent with all prior license development efforts, is to ensure that our licenses operate globally and atop applicable copyright law as intended. This page provides context for making internationalization an express priority for 4.0, and aggregates relevant considerations and proposals for improving still further the international reach and usability of its core licenses.

Importantly, internationalization of the license in 4.0 is critical regardless of whether CC continues to port its licenses in the future, a matter to be determined in consultation with our community once version 4.0 is published. Regardless of your views on the porting question, which is not a topic for discussion on this wiki, we need your assistance on this key drafting issue.

Context and importance

As public licenses, any CC license can be used by anyone, anywhere, even those licenses ported to the laws of a particular jurisdiction with which the licensor has no connection. Beginning with version 3.0, CC ceased the practice of drafting its international (formerly known as the unported or generic) licenses against U.S. copyright law, and changed its approach. With 3.0, CC deliberately chose to use the language of major international copyright treaties and conventions in its international suite [1] and designed the international licenses to fully operate anywhere in accordance with applicable copyright law. We introduced a new provision in the international licenses to make this explicit:

The rights granted under, and the subject matter referenced, in this License were drafted utilizing the terminology of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (as amended on September 28, 1979), the Rome Convention of 1961, the WIPO Copyright Treaty of 1996, the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty of 1996 and the Universal Copyright Convention (as revised on July 24, 1971). These rights and subject matter take effect in the relevant jurisdiction in which the License terms are sought to be enforced according to the corresponding provisions of the implementation of those treaty provisions in the applicable national law. If the standard suite of rights granted under applicable copyright law includes additional rights not granted under this License, such additional rights are deemed to be included in the License; this License is not intended to restrict the license of any rights under applicable law.[2]

Notwithstanding, Creative Commons continued its long-standing practice of allowing legal teams within the jurisdictions to localize the licenses. As of 1 December 2011, 30+ jurisdictions have ported the 3.0 license suite, bringing the total number of unique licenses stewarded by CC to more than 550.[3]

CC believes further internationalization of the CC license suite is a high priority, and ought be a priority for the entire CC community even if porting is continued. The most central reasons include:

  • Although 55+ jurisdictions have ported some version of the CC licenses to their jurisdiction, there are more than twice that number of signatories to major copyright treaties that do not have ported licenses in their jurisdictions.[4] [5] We want to be sure that the international suite addresses the needs (both legal and cultural) of users in those jurisdictions.[6]
  • Having a more internationally accepted and understood license suite gives added confidence to those who do not wish to use a ported license for any number of reasons. [7]
  • Relatedly, licensing data suggests a trend in preference for using the international licenses over ports, thus the benefit of ensuring the international suite is as understood and widely-accepted as possible. [8]

4.0 considerations

Further internationalizing the licenses implicates important drafting and policy considerations:

  • To successfully accomplish the goal of further internationalization, full participation and engagement by all of our CC affiliates (including those who have successfully ported the licenses) is expected, as well as the participation of broader community. Please contribute constructively to this very important topic for 4.0.
  • Creative Commons licenses have a solid enforcement record as currently drafted.[9] Introducing new or modified language or terms and conditions should be done cautiously to avoid compromising this record. This consideration applies to all aspects of the 4.0 drafting process.
  • The international licenses have been (and will continue to be) used in both civil law and common law jurisdictions. Are there improvements that ought be made to further ensure that the international licenses operate and are interpreted consistently across both systems?
  • Creative Commons 3.0 licenses are drafted using terminology found in important international conventions and treaties. [10] What additional conventions and treaties should be consulted and what else ought be kept in mind if, as anticipated, the version 4.0 licenses are drafted for further global reach and use?

[Please add other considerations here.]

Proposals for internationalization in 4.0

[Note: these proposals are not necessarily mutually exclusive]

  • Further align license definitions with those used in international copyright treaties such as Berne, the Rome Convention, and the WIPO Copyright Treaty where possible, accounting for differences.
    • Pros:
    • Cons:
    • Other comments:
  • Incorporate universal drafting conventions and styles in the licenses (to date, based largely on U.S. conventions and styles).
    • Pros:
    • Cons:
    • Other comments:
  • Modify Section 8(f) (or its equivalent) to clarify intended interpretation of license terms and conditions.
    • Pros:
    • Cons:
    • Other comments:
  • Account for differences between laws using accepted language and/or provisions that make clear that terms and conditions apply to the fullest extent permitted by (but not in contravention of) applicable law.
    • Pros:
    • Cons:
    • Other comments:
  • Authorize official/approved translations of the 4.0 international licenses.
    • Pros:
    • Cons:
    • Other comments:

[Please add other proposals here]

Related debate

We encourage you to sign up for the license discussion mailing list, where we will be debating these and other 4.0 proposals. HQ will provide links to related email threads from the license discussion mailing list here.

Relevant references

Please add citations that ought inform this 4.0 issue below.


  1. See the version 3.0 announcement explaining changes.
  2. See Section 8(f) of the 3.0 international licenses.
  3. This number includes all ported and international licenses in all license versions and is as of August 2011. See also CC's source repository, which indicates as of that same date 638 unique licenses. The difference is believed to be due several jurisdictions having translations into multiple languages, e.g., Spain.
  4. For example, there are more than 160 contracting parties to the Berne Convention.
  5. This creates a disparity between those jurisdictions that do not have resources or capacity to port, and those who do. Our experience tells us that this results in several negative consequences for at least some of those jurisdictions without ports -- ranging from the belief that they cannot use CC licenses at all if there is no local port, to a feeling of not belonging to the global CC community.
  6. CC is also aware that many jurisdictions that have ported licenses in the past do not want to port in the future for any number of reasons. Those jurisdictions will also be served better by enhanced internationalization of the core, international suite.
  7. Confusion on the part of licensors is a common complaint and point of inquiry for CC, including the question, which license should I choose?
  8. See Slide 7 of The future of noncommercial presentation from the CC 2011 Global Summit.
  9. See the case law database.
  10. See XXX for one analysis of how the definitions in version 3.0 align with conventions and treaties as of 2007.